Do you have an IKEA sofa and want to make it look nicer or are thinking about buying one? This post is for you. I’m sharing my top 5 tips on making your IKEA couch look more expensive and high-end. Plus my tips on how to choose an IKEA sofa when you are at the buying phase, and what to look for.
I bought 3 IKEA sofas in the past 5 years with both failures and successes, and thought I’d share what I learned with you. I’ll share my experience on:
- Why an IKEA sofa can be a good option for your home
- How to make IKEA sofas look like they are not coming from IKEA (AKA. look more expensive!)
- What to look for when buying an IKEA sofa
The end goal is that with those tips and hacks on choosing and upgrading your IKEA sofa, your guests won’t believe they are actually coming from IKEA 😉
Why IKEA sofa? It’s actually more than the cost
First of all, before diving into the hacks to upgrade the look of your IKEA sofa, I’d like to share why I always choose IKEA couch for my home over other brands – even though I have tried and ended up returning and getting one from IKEA instead.
First and foremost, it’s so affordable and high quality, well, I mean decent quality at least. If you compare an IKEA couch from mid-range brands, IKEA couches are cheaper, but at similar quality.
An IKEA couch usually costs between $500 to $1,000, with a sleeper sofa and sectionals cost a little bit more, but not a lot.
If you look at the quality it’s actually pretty decent! I know some people always think IKEA furniture is cheaply made, but that simply is not true. I have used a lot of IKEA furniture over the years and I have to say the quality really varies depending on what you purchase.
For those cheap small furnitures, sometimes they are more fragile. But I have to say I’m always pleasantly surprised at how sturdy IKEA kitchen cabinets are and also their couches.
For the three IKEA couches I have owned over the years, I haven’t experienced any kind ofbreakage. It feels quite sturdy as I can sit, sleep and roll around on it without feeling it becoming shaky or less stable.
I’ve also moved them in my home and I noticed they’re quite heavy – usually you would prefer to have your sofa lean on the heavier side than light, because most of the time it means it is made of more solid materials, and will be stronger.
Easy to change or upgrade
The other reason I like IKEA sofa is the potential of upgrading or refreshing it in the future. What I mean by that is: because it’s from IKEA and they are more likely to keep their existing furniture line, especially for those successful or classic sofa lines. So they are more likely to keep producing sofa covers or even making new cover options. Because of that, I know that I can change my sofa cover in the future whenever I need.
A lot of IKEA sofas are really practical in terms of cleaning and maintaining. A lot of their sofa lines are either with slipcovers, or with removable covers that are attached to the sofa base by velcro, so that you can remove them easily and wash it whenever needed.
This makes cleaning a sofa so much easier and more affordable. No need for an expensive spot remover nor hiring a professional sofa cleaner. I have a much easier time enjoying the sofa when I know I can wash the cover over and over again.
If any small accident ever happens that the sofa cover is damaged somehow, I can get a new one for my IKEA just fine. There are also third-party companies that sell IKEA covers that you can get to update your sofa which opens even more possibilities. I’ll share my personal experience with that later in this post.
How to make your IKEA sofa look more expensive
Now, let’s dive right in on five tips to make your Ikea sofa look nicer, that it can elevate your entire space!
#1 Tone on tone
The first tip I want to share is about setting up a good foundation for your sofa by ensuring what’s behind the sofa goes well with it. My go to method is called “tone on tone”. What is tone on tone you may ask? It is a kind of interior design term describing the backdrop and the furniture are in similar color palette and brightness.
It sounds simple but does wonders for a lot of spaces. Basically, it makes your space look very cohesive by reducing the contrast but letting the texture shine. A lot of times it is not the color but the texture that makes the space look more sophisticated, thus high end. So if you are not particularly confident at your color matching skills, try painting the wall behind your couch a tonal color and add textures using decors.
Another thing tone on tone does is to make your sofa recede instead of advance, which is a good thing since it is not a sofa you bought for ten grand. Generally speaking, for any large furniture pieces, it’s always a good idea to a let them disappear in the space rather than making it look prominent. Because the former makes the space look larger and allows your decor to shine, and the latter makes your space look smaller and crowded.
Actually, This is my go-to trick for all the rooms with an IKEA sofa, such as my living room and my home office.
For my living room, I used Farlov sofa in white to go with my white walls. But you can see the wall color is slightly darker and warmer which creates just enough contrast but also makes the space look cohesive.
For my home office, I decided on the paint color first, which is a light gray color with a green undertone. When I decided on Vimle sleeper sofa from IKEA for functionality and shape, I specifically chose the light beige gray color for a tone on tone look.
#2 Upgrade Ikea sofa cover
When I think about making something look better, I first look at what takes the most space or surface, because I know changing that will make the most impact. For a sofa, that is the upholstery fabric.
So my #2 hack on making your IKEA sofa look expensive is to consider changing the sofa cover. I recently upgraded my IKEA Farlov sofa slipcover and I could not be happier with the end result.
First, let’s backtrack a little bit and talk about why I decided to change the slipcover. So I have been eyeing Farlov sofa for a long time for its classic shape and bench cushion. It resembles a lot of high-end sofa from other brands that are way more expensive. One day in my local Ikea store I saw a Farlov sofa in their floor sample sale for less than half of the original price – $350! Well, it was hugely discounted for a reason – although the sofa is in top-notch shape as a floor sample, the slipcover color is an unpopular beige-y yellow, and it got some dirt on the bottom part of the slipcover. I was totally Ok with it because I can wash and bleach the cover white.
If only it was that easy! We followed some online tutorial on bleaching and it didn’t go so well. I think it really depends on the fabric. For that particular cover it was very thick and heavily textured so the bleach couldn’t distribute evenly. As a result, parts of the cover are lighter than the other. it was still an improvement from the original dated dark beige color, but I decided to get a sofa cover with better color and the texture off the bat.
So when Comfort Works reached out to me one day and offered me a set of sofa covers in Pure Linen fabric to try out, I immediately said yes because I would actually spend money buying it if they didn’t let me try for free.
For the Farlov slipcovers at least, they had 2 styles to choose from. Scandi style is the same as the original Ikea cover. Minimalist style is similar but without pleated skirt details. I opted for the Minimalist style because it looks more modern and also different from IKEA cover.
I received my cover a few weeks afterwards and replaced the cover with my husband’s help. The process was pretty quick and easy given that I already had experience putting the cover on when I first purchased my original Farlov sofa.
The construction of those covers are extremely similar to the cover that came from IKEA. The new cover has a very different feel compared to my old IKEA one. Their Pure Linen cover is more lightweight and soft compared to the IKEA cover I had. The IKEA cover is a lot thicker and stiffer, with a honeycomb texture. You can see this photo for comparison:
One thing I noticed is the Comfort Works cover is slightly larger than the IKEA cover I had before. I think it could be due to two reasons:
1. To make the cover easier to slide on.
2. Because this cover is washable that the fabric will shrink after the first wash. They are accounting for fabric shrinkage by making the cover slightly larger. It is possible that they are the exact same size as the original IKEA cover but I have only put the cover on my couch after washing and drying them (remember they got dirty on the slipcover as a floor sample).
The true magical moment happened when I finally sat on it after changing up the cover and styling the coach. The texture feels amazing. The fabric is so soft that I feel like I’m sitting on my bed. There’s something about natural fabric that just feels great with the skin.
Ever since I shared my living room photo on Instagram, I’ve gotten a lot of questions on how comfy my Farlov 3 seater sofa is and whether I like it or not. I do like it, for its classic shape and bench cushion (there’s no separation in the middle). it is a medium firm couch I would say, slightly on the firmer side. And I noticed the soft linen cover actually makes the sofa feel more soft which I love! And because it is pure linen, it has a cool feel when I touch it which is nice in the summer.
#3 Dress up with pillows and throws
Now that you have set a good foundation or backdrop, it is time to add jewelries AKA decors. It’s way more cost effective to add expensive-looking decors than buying expensive furniture, since decor only costs a fraction of what a large furniture piece would cost. So I like to add expensive looking pillows and throw blankets on the couch to add more coziness and also to amp up the style.
Another nice thing about pillows and throws is that they can cover up a lot of the sofa upholstery. If you cannot afford to reupholster or to upgrade your sofa cover you can drape over a nice-looking throw blanket over your couch and call it a day. Or even better, throw some pretty pillows with varying texture to add more sophistication to your couch.
Also, an expensive looking pillow doesn’t have to be expensive on cost, check out my DIY pillow tips if you are looking to make yourself.
If you don’t have a sewing machine or don’t have the time to make one, here are a few pillows and throw blankets that I think works with almost every space:
#4 Upgrade sofa legs
Legs to a sofa is like jewelry to a woman. It is an elegant touch to bring your sofa up a notch.
Legs mainly serve two purposes. First they elevate your sofa by raising it up from the floor. This makes your sofa look less bulky hence makes your space look more open and airy. What’s more, they add a sense of style by the their shape and material. You’ll be amazed how much furniture leg changes its style.
Here are some great looking sofa legs that I love:
Keep in mind that sofa legs may not work for every IKEA sofa. If your sofa legs are completely covered by slipcovers, it may not be worth the investment.
If you have a sleeper sofa, pay attention to whether there’s extra legs under your sofa. For my Vimle sleeper sofa, there’s additional legs inside the sofa to support the bed frame. If I ever change the legs, I need to make sure the new legs are exactly the same height as the original one so that the weight is evenly distributed. Another fun way to upgrade those sofa legs is by using contact paper to cover up the legs or spray paint it a cute color.
#5 Keep your sofa in its top-notch shape – periodically correct cushion shape and maintenance tips and tools
Now let’s talk about the form of a sofa. Although you got pretty covers or nice pillows, your sof can still look sad and if the cushions are squished or saggy. But don’t worry, this problem is easy to fix and it really made a difference.
Simply remove the cover of the cushion you want to fix, place the cushion insert on a flat surface and then adjust the shape with your hand. I like to push the insert back and forth until it becomes a nice rectangle shape.
An even easier way to adjust the cushion insert is to flip it around. O our home office sofa can get deformed pretty quickly because we use it everyday given that we both WFH during quarantine. So every month or so I flip the back cushions so that the new pressure it receives could correct the shape without me doing any extra work.
Maintaining the fabrics
First of all, if you just washed your sofa cover or got a new one, it’s always a good idea to steam it to make the fabric smooth. It really makes a huge difference. You can also iron it but it is generally more work than steaming.
Here’s a before and after of smoothing my Farlov sofa cover with a steamer. It’s amazing what 10 minutes or steaming can do!
This is the fabric steamer I swear by. I got it from Target. Actually It was an upgrade from a garment steamer I had before. What’s nice about this steamer is that doesn’t leak water no matter how you place the steamer. For the old fabric steamer I can only hold it right up which works for steaming clothes, but not for sofa because I have to point the steamer down to iron the cushion.
One more magic tool on upholstery maintenance – a fabric shaver to defuzz your worn sofa cover. Depending on the fabric and how much you sit on it, your sofa cover can slowly develop fuzz balls. I use a fabric shaver to renew any fabrics that need a facelift, including my upholstered chairs.
IKEA sofa buying tips – how to choose an IKEA sofa
I’ve had success and failures in terms of choosing an IKEA sofa. Here are my go-to rules nowadays when I need to buy an sofa:
A sofe a is a large piece of furniture and you probably won’t change it very often. So it is important to get the shape right. I like to choose really classic shapes. Think in this way, if it was popular 50 years ago and still popular now, it probably will still be popular 50 years from now.
Also keep it simple. A simple shape will work in both homes that are extremely traditional and homes that are modern and minimal. Remember it’s always easier to add things than to remove things.
This is more of a practical tip. I always like to have peace of mind that my sofa cover is washable. Nowadays IKEA offers a lot of sofa with either a sleepover or removable cover that are to the sofa by velcro.
A few years ago I bought an IKEA sofa that didn’t have removable covers and had to sell at some point. It was extremely hard to sell because we haven’t cleaned it since the purchase and it looks dirty.
Color and texture
This is also something I’ve learnt from the same failed experience. When I was choosing a sofa from IKEA, I was so afraid that the sofa would get dirty easily, especially considering that sofa doesn’t have a removable cover. So I got a dark gray colored sofa and it just made my space look so tired and very heavy. Because a sofa takes so much space inside the room, the color of the sofa really impacts how you perceive the space.
With that experience in mind, I always choose sofa cover with a medium to light color and ensure cover is removable.
Sit on it!
Whenever possible, you should sit on a couch before buying it. Each sofa can be drastically different in terms of the firmness and the only way you can find out is to experience yourself.
There has been times that I love the shape of the sofa but the once I sit on it, it is just not as comfortable. IKEA it’s pretty good at displaying the majority of their couch in the store, so at least you got a chance to experience that in person.
Final thoughts on making IKEA sofa look more expensive
So those are my 5 hacks on how to make your IKEA couch look more high-end and even make the entire room more stylish. If you are in the market to buy an IKEA sofa, I hope my sofa buying guide also gives you some useful tips and tricks. What is your go-to way to make IKEA sofa look expensive?